I was suffering a little bit from anxiety (not related to the event), and that coupled with the crowded conditions in the venue meant I didn't get the most out of the night (so it could have been even better than the glowing report I'm about to give it). Yeah it was very cramped, and the way I was 'squishing myself in' led to a wee bit of pain, but that was only due to the popularity of the event, not the limitations of the location (incidentally, The Castle Hotel is a lovely place. I had a couple of pints of Robinson's 'Double Hop', but I'll try and keep this literary and leave the ale monologue for another time). Once I'd settled down, though, the fun began.
The performances were genuinely brilliant, from "only the warm up" right through to the deep-sea diving and Hollywood films, all in the spirit of the late Mr. Cobbing (1920 - 2002). He was an Enfield poet noted for his work in concrete, visual and sound pieces but if you want more biographical details, click on the above link to be taken to his UbuWeb page. Clive Fencott, who was reading from his own collection Am I On My Feet (El Uel Uel U, 1976), helpfully explained a couple of bits and bobs, including the idea of poetry as experience, rather than language (and that Bob could have 'performed a wall panel' if he'd wanted). This brought home to me the importance of the works that were being read out and also meant I 'got' more out of them.
There was a lot of humour, especially during the Hollywood poems, but overall the experience was nigh on indesribable ('fascinating' is right, but doesn't do it justice). I feel sorry for you if you didn't make it, because you really had to be there to feel the full extent of the performance. Even a video recording wouldn't give a fair reflection, the sense of passion from the poets burnt so brightly in person.
The second half saw a cavalcade of poets performing Cobbing's own 'ABC in Sound' which turned out, despite their ostensible reservations, to be well organized. One poet in the ensemble performed accoustically a digital remix he'd done of part of it. The thrill of seeing such a physical and audible collage of artists was fantastic, and I thought to myself I could have no regrets if I died there and then.
I went a bit mad on getting some of the poets' books afterwards, but mourning the pecuniary loss would be silly when I consider the poetic treasures I have gained. It was great to see my sister and other friends there, and everyone was unanimous in their support of a great night. Check out the links throughout the post for more opportunities to take part. Go on, do it now!
Here are some more linky-links to relevant stuff:
- http://robertsheppard.blogspot.co.uk/ (Robert Sheppard's blog, he performed on the night)
- That's it actually, all the other links are in the post pretty much...